The Car Accident Victim’s Guide to Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions may cause an immense amount of trauma. In a head-on collision, the accident often involves the force of both vehicles, which can mean more severe injuries for everyone involved. After a head-on collision accident, you may find yourself with severe property damage, serious injuries, and considerable challenges as you move forward with a personal injury claim.

What Is a Head-On Collision?

Head-on collisions can involve complete contact between the fronts of the vehicles or may occur when one vehicle clips another.

Head-on collisions mean that the force from both vehicles goes into an accident. Head-on collisions can occur at slow rates of speed, including in intersections after a vehicle comes to a full stop. They may also occur at high rates of speed, particularly on highways and interstates. After any head-on collision, people often suffer severe injuries.

Who Bears Liability for Head-On Collisions?

Some accident scenes will clearly show who bears liability for a head-on collision. You may see, for example, that one driver crossed over the centerline or went the wrong way down a one-way street.

Head-on collisions can occur for various reasons, and those reasons may make it easier to determine which party bears liability.

#1. Speeding

Speeding can increase the risk of many types of accidents, including a head-on collision. At a high rate of speed, the driver that causes the accident may find it difficult to keep their car in its lane, especially when going around a turn. Furthermore, the driver may have difficulty stopping in time at an intersection, even when another driver has already moved into it. High rates of speed also increase the force involved in a head-on collision, which means the driver may cause more severe injuries.

#2. Distraction

Distracted driving can cause a driver to veer out of their lane. Distracted drivers may look down or over at something in the vehicle rather than pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, those distracted drivers may lose track of their traffic lane, swerving or drifting into another lane. Distracted driving can cause serious injuries, particularly if the driver does not see a hazard or vehicle in time to avert the collision, reduce speed, or take other actions to mitigate the severity of the accident.

#3. Inebriation

Drunk drivers have a high potential to cause head-on collision accidents. Not only does inebriation often cause drivers to take more risks, including driving recklessly, but many drunk drivers also struggle with controlling their vehicles. They may swerve into another lane of traffic, finding it challenging to stay in the lines of their lane. Often, other drivers will not have adequate time to move away from a drunk driver, especially one who unexpectedly swerves into oncoming traffic.

#4. Fatigue

Driver fatigue may cause many of the same symptoms as driving while intoxicated. Fatigued drivers often suffer from tunnel vision or zone out, which can cause them to drive erratically. These drivers may also fall asleep behind the wheel. With no one controlling the vehicle, a car will usually remain on its last trajectory until it collides with something. Unfortunately, since roads are rarely straight, fatigued drivers may wake up to their vehicles moving into another lane or, in a worst-case scenario, after a collision already occurred.

#5. Driving the Wrong Way Down a One-Way

One-way roads can pose a danger for many drivers. Going the wrong way down a one-way road can make it very difficult to avoid a head-on collision. Sometimes, drivers do not realize they have turned the wrong way down a one-way street until an inevitable crash.

#6. Passing Dangerously

A head-on collision may occur because a driver attempts to pass unsafely. Drivers may try to pass in the opposite lane of traffic, either legally, with a dotted yellow line that indicates they can safely pass, or illegally. These dangerous passing accidents can occur more frequently on two-lane rural roads, where drivers have a harder time getting around a slow-moving driver.

Motorcycles may also have a higher likelihood of causing head-on collisions due to dangerous passing. Since motorcycle riders may sometimes engage in more reckless behavior or assume they have more time to maneuver.

#7. Mechanical Failure

In particular, steering failure or a tire blowout can raise the risk of a driver moving out of the assigned lane of traffic and causing a head-on collision. In the case of mechanical failure, the vehicle owner may bear liability for failing to take care of needed maintenance. This includes ignoring a vehicle recall or failing to take care of a vehicle that has shown obvious signs of problems in the past. On the other hand, sometimes, vehicle manufacturers may bear liability for an accident caused by mechanical failure if the manufacturer put out a vehicle with errors in design that led to the collision.

In most cases, the driver that shifts into another lane will bear liability for a head-on collision. However, in some cases, multiple factors may contribute to the accident, resulting in more than one party bearing liability for the accident. For example, suppose a driver’s employer has dangerous policies requiring the driver to continue driving despite fatigue. In that case, the employer may bear liability if the driver causes an accident.

What Should You Do After a Head-On Collision?

If a head-on collision injures you, you may become disoriented, confused, and unsure of what to do next. A severe crash may cause serious injuries that require immediate attention.

How can you protect yourself?

#1. Carefully evaluate your immediate injuries.

If you suffer serious injuries, summon medical attention immediately. Always make medical care your top priority after any serious accident. Consider potential injuries before you get out of your vehicle. You may need to take care not to further your injuries. If it does not put you in further danger, you may need to remain in the vehicle and wait for help to arrive.

#2. Turn off the vehicle and move away from it if you notice any signs of smoke or flame.

If you smell smoke or see flames in or around your vehicle, exit as quickly as possible and do not return. Head-on collisions have a higher risk of causing vehicle fires. If you have a head-on collision, be on guard for these extreme hazards and take steps to protect yourself and your passengers.

#3. Call the police to report the accident.

A call to 911 will let the police know about the potential accident. Ensure you inform the police about the nature of the head-on collision and any other details you may have observed. If one of the vehicles does catch on fire, notify the dispatcher immediately. The police may need to take specific actions to help protect others on the road.

When the police arrive, provide an honest, accurate assessment of what led to the accident. Do not leave the accident scene without talking to the police, as the authorities could charge you with abandoning the scene of an accident, even if you did not cause it.

#4. Take photos.

In the case of a head-on collision, you may find it beneficial to your later personal injury claim to take photos of the position of the two vehicles. Often, the positioning of the vehicles will clearly show the error of the other driver, crossing the centerline or otherwise. Those photos can serve as much-needed evidence that the other driver caused the accident and that, as a result, you deserve compensation for injuries.

You may want to take photos of the other driver’s vehicle, including the license plate, make, model, damage to your vehicles, and any injuries you have.

Do not put yourself in danger or exacerbate injuries to take photos of the accident scene. Prioritize your safety and physical health as you wait for the police to arrive.

#5. See a medical care professional.

Due to the amount of force involved in a head-on, even if the drivers brake or are moving slowly, the combined force of the two vehicles can cause severe injuries and damage. If your head-on collision involves serious vehicle damage, assume that it also has the potential for severe injuries.

Let a medical care professional evaluate you for any potential injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, or back or neck injuries. When you receive prompt medical attention, it can lower the risk of complications. Furthermore, a medical evaluation helps prove when your injuries occurred, which can stop the other driver’s insurer from claiming the accident didn’t cause your injuries.

#6. Contact a lawyer.

If a head-on collision injures you, a lawyer can guide you through the legal process that follows. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help you establish your right to compensation, including what damages you sustained during and after the accident. The insurance company covering the liable party may substantially limit the compensation offered. You may have a long fight ahead of you to get the compensation you deserve. A car accident lawyer can help negotiate with the insurer to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Acquiring Compensation for a Head-On Collision

To acquire compensation for a head-on collision, a lawyer can help establish that the other driver’s negligent actions caused the accident. In addition to compensation for the damage to your vehicle, you may have the right to claim compensation for any injuries you suffered from the accident.

Auto accident claims usually include compensation for:

  • Medical bills associated with your accident
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering from the accident

Insurance companies use tactics to limit the compensation they must pay. They may claim that you caused or contributed to the accident or that you did not suffer the injuries you claimed in the accident. An attorney can establish proof of the cause of your accident, the extent of your injuries, and the various challenges you have faced from those injuries.

Do You Need a Lawyer After a Head-On Collision?

If a head-on collision injured you, a personal injury lawyer can determine how much compensation you deserve and fight for your right to be made whole. Contact an attorney to schedule a free consultation and learn more about holding those who injured you responsible.

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